Guatemalan Civilians Crossed The Line
On Monday, we told you about the armed encounter on the border where Belizean Armed Forces killed a Guatemalan civilian. They said that he shot at them first, and that there were signs that these civilians were engaging in illegal activities in Belizean territory. Well tonight, we'll show you photographic evidence which supports their story.
We've also been able to gather a bit more details as to how the incident unfolded. Approximately at around 4 o'clock Saturday afternoon, a joint team of officers from BDF and Police were on operation with FCD rangers.
They were 4 miles from Rio Blanco and 2 miles within Belizean Territory, patrolling the area, when they discovered this clearing in the Chiquibul National Park. It's a forest reserve so naturally, the patrol investigated why the trees were cut down.
That's when they found 2 huts, which suggested that human activity taking place in the area.
They also found discarded food, and further investigation of the area led them to find 40-50 marijuana plants, and a garbage bag containing unplanted marijuana seeds. These discoveries led the Belizean lawmen to believe that the area was cleared for marijuana cultivation, and that the huts and the food belonging the farmers who were trying to harvest these drugs.
The joint team then assembled themselves into 3 groups, a rear, a right and a left protection group, and they continued to investigate. They then saw 2 armed civilians, which was approaching the right protection group. The lawmen identified themselves to the 2 civilians, ordered them to stop and place their weapons on the ground. That's when the men took aim and fired at the joint team, who say that their lives were sufficiently threatened by the very hostile behavior. At their commander's orders, 3 BDF soldiers opened fire in response.
They shot one of the men, later identified as Guatemalan Tomas Desdicho Ramirez, and when Ramirez went down, the other man fled and continued to fire at the officers until he escaped.
The team immediately went over to check on Ramirez, who they found already dead, with his 12-gauge shotgun still in his hand where he fell. A search of the area led to the discovery of one live 12 gauge and 5 expended cartridges.
The Officers radioed in the incident to Camp Belizario in the Cayo District, and destroyed the marijuana plants. They then transported Ramirez to the Pick-up point, and then to the San Ignacio Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. All officers on the patrol were then confined to Camp Belizario, where they were each asked to prepare separate reports on the conflict, all of which have so far established these facts as the sequence of events.
As we've reported, the OAS has been called in as an objective party in the investigation into this shooting at the border, and Guatemalan officials will be present for Ramirez's autopsy and to visit the crime scene of where the shooting took place.
In a joint statement from both the Guatemalan and Belizean Governments, Prime Minister Dean Barrow assures Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina that, quote, "his government will investigate the facts relating to the incident, and should it be found that there is culpability by persons involved they will be brought to justice in accordance with the law." End quote.
But with such strong evidence, it is tough suggest that the officers on this patrol who shot Ramirez to death acted inappropriately when they stumbled onto the marijuana plantation being tended to by both Guatemalan men.
Meanwhile, the press in Guatemala has been busy denouncing the shooting death of Tomas Ramirez, suggesting to Guatemalan readers that the Belizean lawmen inappropriately used deadly force against him and demanding ballistics testing. We'll keep following the results of the official investigation into this matter.